Solar Auction

In January 2012 the ACT Government issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to support the development of up to 40 megawatts of large-scale solar generation capacity in the ACT. The RFP was issued in relation to the competitive process (the Solar Auction) determined in the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) FiT Capacity Release Determination 2012 (No 1) under the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011 (the Act).

Outcomes

On 5 September 2012, the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development announced that FRV Royalla Solar Farm Pty Limited had been successful in the ‘fast-track stream’ of the Solar Auction and would be awarded a grant of FiT entitlement for their 20 megawatt proposal to be located at Royalla in the ACT (Media Release, 5 September 2012). The Royalla Solar Farm was commissioned in late August 2014 and officially opened by Minister Corbell on 3 September 2014.

On Monday 19 August 2013, the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development announced that Zhenfa Canberra Solar Farm One Pty Limited and OneSun Capital 10MW Operating Pty Ltd had been selected in the ‘regular stream’ of the Solar Auction and would be awarded grants of FiT entitlement for their 13 and 7 megawatt proposals respectively (Media release, 19 August 2013)

The completion of these projects is subject to their achieving Development Approval including all relevant environmental clearance and normal community consultation requirements. When completed, the solar farms will produce enough GreenPowerTM to supply around 10,000 Canberra houses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,400,000 tonnes over 20 years.

The ACT’s Solar Auction has proved a simple and effective way of attracting large solar projects to the Territory.  This initiative also underpins Canberra’s emergence as a renewable energy investment hub and supports the continuing growth of our clean technology industries.

More information is available in the Solar Auction Brochure.

Solar Auction Review

Under section 22(1) the ACT, the Minister must review a FiT capacity release within 6 months after the last FiT entitlement under the release is granted. An independent review has been completed by consultant Sinclair Knight Mertz (SKM).

SKM concluded that:

  • Overall, proponents had a high level of awareness of the process, commenting that it was well promoted and that sufficient information was available and accessible in order to make their investment decision.
  • Administration of the process was commensurate with ACT Government capacity and capability, with the Secretariat engaging consultants and independent advisors (Advisory Panel) to fill any potential capability gaps. However administration could be further improved by closer engagement and planning with the agencies / organisations responsible for administering the land and network connection arrangements.
  • The process was conducted in a transparent way, with no undue advantage provided to any proponents. Greater transparency could be achieved by making the weightings placed upon each evaluation criterion public with the release of the RFP.
  • The Solar Auction effectively achieved all of its outcomes, resulting in a competitive process that provided the ACT Government with a number of high quality proposals to select from that offered relatively low FiT rates (thus providing value for money).
  • The ACT Government and proponents bared the major costs involved in implementing the process, and these costs generally met budget and investment planning expectations. However organisations indirectly involved in the process (through their role in supporting land and network connection arrangements) were relatively unprepared for the impact on their resources.
  • The Solar Auction effectively achieved all of its outcomes, resulting in a competitive process that provided the ACT Government with a number of high quality proposals to select from that offered relatively low FiT rates (thus providing value for money).
  • The process enabled equal opportunity among potential proponents, noting that its requirements (demonstrated through the evaluation and eligibility criteria) were high due to the relatively large scale and long timeframe associated with the potential developments.
  • Risks have been appropriately allocated among the parties involved, with the ACT Government’s key risks limited to those that are political / reputational in nature, and the proponent bearing greater risks associated with delays or failures in delivery the project.

A summary of the review, including consultant recommendations is available, as is the Government’s response to those recommendations:

Contact

Email: SolarAuction@act.gov.au

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